Why is it called a "potluck"?


The term "potluck" traces its origins back to the middle ages, and refers to the practice of combining leftovers to feed people on short notice. This became known as taking the "luck of the pot," or "taking potluck." Dictionary.com states that the term "potluck" was created in 1592.

This historical definition of potluck endured for centuries, and the practice was especially popular at inns and taverns. By the mid-19th century, however, the term had come closer to the connotation that it holds today: a communal meal where each person brings a different dish, sometimes arranging the dishes before and sometimes not. In the early to mid-20th century, "potluck" also took on the connotation of simply taking one's chances, whether related to food or not, though this definition is not widely used today.

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